Monday, May 22, 2023

The Wrath of Becky

Becky is a little like John Wick, but her movies are smaller and more didactic. You really want to keep your dirty hands off her dog, Diego. That should be easy enough to respect, but if you ever opened a Parler account, she also thinks you deserve a violent, painful death—or at least that is how screenwriter-directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote see the world. Regardless, trouble keeps finding Becky Hooper in The Wrath of Becky, which opens this Friday in theaters.

Since killing the Neo-National Socialists who murdered her widower father in the first film, Becky Hopper has become a bit of a drifter, but she finally started to feel at home again while staying with Elena Connor, an elderly kindred spirit. She still is not about to be intimidated when a group of looser “Noble Men” white supremacists make trouble at the diner where she works. After Becky gets the better of them, they follow her home, killing Connor and dognapping Diego. Ill-advisedly, they leave Hopper alive and hungry for raw, bloody vengeance.

It is hard to say which is more cartoonish, the film’s over-the-top graphic violence or its crudely simplistic politics. At one point, one of the “Noble Men” literally brags: “that would blow-up on Parler.” Sure, the bad guys have it coming and there are plenty of people like that out there, but Angel and Coote freely indulge in very broad strokes to promote an “us vs. them” perspective of contemporary America. As a result, the film will likely just reinforce the polarization of the extremes.

On the plus side, Lulu Wilson is convincingly fierce reprising her original role as Becky and Seann Williams Scott is entertainingly sinister as Darryl (Jr.), the leader of the Noble Men. Weirdly,
Wrath is also a bit like Newhart, in that it has multiple characters named Darryl, who are related. Unfortunately, the rest of the Noble Men are cardboard caricatures, who fade from memory as soon as the film finishes. Frankly, there should have been more cat-and-mouse games featuring Becky facing off against Darryl and less of the other Noble Men’s crude, cement-headed thuggery.

Clearly, realistically complex character development was not a priority for Angel and Coote. Apparently, they are also deficient in basic American civics. Late in the day, there are passing references to the CIA’s interest in the Noble Men, but Langley is forbidden by charter from operating domestically. If Kate Montana was indeed a CIA officer focusing on the Noble Men, nobody would be more outraged than the turf-conscious FBI. Seriously, allowing such a basic mistake reach movie screens should embarrass everyone associated with the film.

Unfortunately, that is generally indicative of the film’s level of intelligence. Just when the payback action starts heating up, someone starts talking, not to advance the story, but just to make a point. Not recommended,
The Wrath of Becky opens this Friday (5/26) in New York, at the AMC Empire.